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EACEA National Policies Platform


3. Employment & Entrepreneurship

3.8 Development of entrepreneurship competence

Last update: 28 November 2023
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  1. Policy Framework
  2. Formal learning
  3. Non-formal and informal learning
  4. Educators support in entrepreneurship education

Policy Framework

There are several policy documents combining the policy framework for entrepreneurship competence and its development:

  • The “Estonian Entrepreneurship Growth Strategy 2014-2020” (Eesti Ettevõtluse kasvustrateegia 2014-2020) for developing entrepreneurship and achieving growth. The general goal of the Estonian Entrepreneurship Growth Strategy 2014–2020 is to facilitate the achievement of the umbrella objectives within the competitiveness plan "Estonia 2020" to enhance productivity and employment. The plan seeks to reach the goal where Estonian entrepreneurs earn greater income through products and services with a higher value added. To that end, entrepreneurial and innovation policy should be dealt within a single strategic framework that ensures the coherence between the policies that have, so far, stood apart at the strategic planning level, and by that ensure better performance. The strategy is being implemented by the Ministry of Economics and Communication and Enterprise Estonia and partner institutions (Ministry of Education and Research, etc.), the process of implementation includes the establishment of the implementation plan and annual reporting. The target groups are potential entrepreneurs, beginning entrepreneurs and existing entrepreneurs (who are already active on the market and are searching for growth). The strategy will have a new version for the years 2021-2035 called "Estonian Science and Developmental Activities, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development Plan 2021-2035" (Eesti teadus- ja arendustegevuse, innovatsiooni ning ettevõtluse arengukava  2021–2035).
  • The Estonian Lifelong Learning Strategy 2020 (Eesti elukestva õppe strateegia) includes five strategic goals, of which two are related to entrepreneurship education: change in the approach to learning (the goal is to implement an approach towards learning that supports each learner’s individual and social development, learning skills, creativity and entrepreneurship in the work at all levels and in all types of education); consistency between lifelong learning opportunities and the needs of labour market. The authority responsible for the implementation is the Ministry of Education and Research, the process of implementation includes the establishment of the implementation plan and annual reporting. The target group of the strategy includes the whole population as potential students, educational institutions and organisers of education provision.
  • The Youth Field Development Plan 2014-2020 (Noortevaldkonna arengukava 2014-2020), which states the need to support young people’s employability by providing opportunities to obtain work experience (including voluntary work) and better understand the world of work, paying particular attention to risk groups. Also, the ability of young people to act as a creator of the labour market needs support including support for youth initiative and implementation a variety of youth work provision for entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial spirit. The authority responsible for the implementation is the Ministry of Education and Research, the process of implementation includes the establishment of the implementation plan and annual reporting. The target group of the plan is young people in the age group 7-26, youth workers and organisers of youth work provision. The development plan will have a follow-up for the years 2021-2035 (see more in Chapter 1.3.), where one measure is specifically targeted to encouraging youth entrepreneurship, creativity and ideas.
  • The 'Entrepreneurship Education Development Plan: Be Enterprising!' (Ettevõtlusõppe Edendamise Kava, a cooperation agreement signed by multiple parties 7.10.2010); is a specific strategy for entrepreneurship education signed at the Estonian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in 2010, which addressed ISCED 1-3 including school-based IVET. Its main objectives include awareness-raising of entrepreneurship education, teacher training, teaching materials, and allocation of resources. It includes a map of entrepreneurial learning outcomes across the educational levels, with a strong focus on integrating these into curricula. The target group of the plan includes educational institutions and students.

Formal learning

Entrepreneurship education is explicitly referred to in the curricula as follows:

  • In ISCED 1-3, new national curricula explicitly recognise EE as a general competence and a cross-curricular objective. It is also included as the cross-curricular topic 'Civic Initiative and Entrepreneurship'
  • In ISCED 2-3, it is taught in the optional separate subjects 'Entrepreneurial Studies' (ISCED 2) and 'Economic and Entrepreneurship Studies' (ISCED 3), and in the compulsory subject 'Civics and Citizenship Education' (ISCED 2-3).

Central level recommendations for teaching methods are available through the new curricula for basic schools and upper secondary schools.

Learning outcomes for EE are defined in the general part of the National Curricula for Basic Schools and Upper Secondary Schools as well in subject syllabi. Some examples are:

  • in ISCED 1, students are expected, for example, to understand that money pays for things and is earned by working and to know how to cooperate with others;
  • in ISCED 2, students are expected, for example, to have an understanding of labour market opportunities for those with different educational levels, as well as know what it means to be an owner, entrepreneur, employer, employee or unemployed person;
  • in ISCED 3, students are expected, for example, to understand entrepreneurship as a career choice and understand that it is possible for them to become entrepreneurs. 

There is an ongoing initiative by the Government to develop OSKA - a system of labour market monitoring and future skills forecasting (OSS). The measure is designed also to include tight networking of education and labour market stakeholders. For example, the implementation of OSKA is overseen by the OSKA Coordination Council, which consists of the representatives of the Ministry of Education and ResearchMinistry of Economic Affairs and CommunicationsMinistry of Social AffairsMinistry of Finance, the Estonian Employers’ Confederation, the Estonian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Estonian Service Unions’ Confederation, the Estonian Trade Union Confederation and the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund.

"Enterprising School" is an education programme, which was launched in Ida-Viru County in 2006 and focuses on the integration of business studies into the school system in order to enhance the quality of education and hence the success of young people in life. The network of "Enterprising School" has expanded into ten counties, where the programme is coordinated by the county development centres (CDCs). Application of the model "Enterprising School" helps the educational institutions:

  • to integrate the learned things with real life, with no games but real things and activities;
  • to do successful co-operation with parents and partners;
  • to make studies more interesting;
  • to make both the students and the teachers enthusiastic;
  • to contribute to the local community, when completing something in reality.

The network of "Enterprising School" includes the educational establishments, who in their establishments have set the aim of education to form enterprising attitude through study assignment counting on the national curriculum.

Non-formal and informal learning

The aims and objectives of the Youth Field Development Plan 2014-2020 (Noortevaldkonna arengukava 2014-2020) include the need to support young people’s employability, creativity and entrepreneurial spirit. The activities envisaged in the plan include:

  • the opportunities for youth to obtain work experience (including voluntary work)
  • support for young people to better understand the world of work, paying particular attention to risk groups;
  • support for youth self-initiative
  • implementation of a variety of youth work services to support entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial spirit of young people.

The new development plan for the years 2021-2035 brings also out the need to support young people's entrepreneurship and employment.

In order to implement the aims, the Education and Youth Board (until 01.08.2020 Estonian Youth Work Centre) is coordinating the activities to create work-shops (occupational labs), which give young people more opportunities to acquaint themselves for future occupations, supporting the provision of youth work camps, to give young people practical work experience etc. 

The mini-company programme carried out by Junior Achievement Estonia is a non-formal education activity supporting the development of entrepreneurship competences.

The recognition and validation of the learning, including entrepreneurial learning, in non-formal and informal learning environments, is been an important topic in education and youth policies for a long time. There is a legal framework allowing prior learning and work experience to be recognised and validated in the formal education system (see also chapter 3.6.) The Youth Field Development Plan 2014-2020 highlights the non-formal environment, including awareness about the possibilities to support entrepreneurial mind-set through youth work. There are several projects and initiatives implemented in the youth field to support awareness. One of the initiatives implemented by the Education and Youth Board to support the recognition of non-formal and informal learning by providing an instrument for young people is the project Teeviit (formerly known as Stardiplats). Teeviit is a web-based instrument for young people and youth workers to develop skills of describing learning in a non-formal and informal environment. 

Educators support in entrepreneurship education

The Ministry of Education and Research launched a programme for the years 2016-2018 to support the development of tools for entrepreneurship education across all the levels of formal education.

The main activities of the programme are:

  • Development of the methodologies and study-instruments for entrepreneurship education including mapping the need for support, development of methods for teacher training and modules to use in schools under several subjects;
  • Development of training opportunities for providers of entrepreneurship education;
  • Support for entrepreneurship education in general education and vocational schools and higher education institutions and for the increased cooperation with the partners outside of schools.
  • Development of competencies with regard to the entrepreneurship education, including support for research and development activities on the subject and support for self-assessment models to include the assessment of the entrepreneurship education.

Entrepreneurship education is included in all initial teacher education curricula in Estonia. The universities and other providers – Education and Youth Board (until 01.08.2020 Foundation Innove), NGO Junior Achievement (JA) Estonia and Association of Teachers of Economics – have provided programmes for all teachers in primary education, but only for teachers of social studies, economics and mathematics in general secondary education. JA Estonia and Association of Teachers of Economics have also organised Job Shadow Days for teachers.

The Ministry of Education and Research has financially supported the development of the assessment tool for the cross-curricular topic 'Civic Initiative and Entrepreneurship' at lower secondary education level, as well as workshops, summer and winter schools organised by the Association of Teachers of Social Studies and Association of Teachers of Economics. The Chamber of Commerce organises twice yearly entrepreneurial think tank meetings to support the collaboration between schools and stakeholders. The networking initiative, 'Dreams Become Reality,' encompassed organizations that contribute to the promotion of an entrepreneurial mindset, supporting different school level activities. A network of teachers from primary and secondary education has been organised by JA Estonia. They meet once a year to discuss problems and improve their skills and knowledge. In addition, Association of Teachers of Economics, which involves mainly upper secondary teachers, as well as some lower secondary teachers, works closely with JA Estonia on issues linked to entrepreneurship education.